Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Notes from the Home - September 22, 2015

     Fall came to Columbus and its environs a few days early. Although, I would not have recognized it as fall before moving here in 2012. In Ashtabula, bright sunshine, gentle breeze, low humidity, high of 85 and low of 67 is a pleasant summer day. It would be a pleasant summer day in Columbus, too, if such a day were to occur between May and earlySeptember. It seldom does. There have been maybe a half dozen such days in the four summers I've been here. And not a one this year.
     Now, when I slide the porch door open at five in the morning, cool air comes in, and it's exhilarating. This morning, I left the porch door open and the air conditioner off until nearly noon. At eight-thirty each morning, when I go out and circle the building, it is comfortably cool in the shade and comfortably warm in the sunlight.
     Tuesday morning, Janet, an English woman who came to America last fall, was sitting in her carport smoking a cigarette when I came along. Our conversation quickly turned to the weather and how nice it has been. Which led me to talk about the Orofino branch of the family.
     "My daughter says they've had lows out there in the thirties," I said.
     "Thirties?" she asked with a what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-this-guy look on her face. Then came the "Oh" and a smile when she realized I was speaking in Fahrenheit, not Celsius.

     Al's nephew Harry is spending a few days with his uncle. Yesterday, they told stories about Al's brother, who must have been a brilliant man. He was an Air Force pilot who was never stationed overseas, because he was always going to school. He finished all the work for his Ph.D except the dissertation. After the Air Force, he taught at NYU, CW Post and two or three other colleges in the New York area.
     The company does Al good. He is always trying to understand what is happening with his body, and having someone there listen to his to his analysis helps. On and on and on he'll go about his bowels, his breathing, his dizziness, his weak legs, his whatever, until he looks at me straight in the face and says, "Tom, why don't you tell me to shut the hell up." When he is by himself, I don't think Al tells himself to tell himself to shut up, and the more he talks to himself about his problems, the more he worries and works himself up.
     The subject of Al moving to the Personal Care (formerly Assisted Living) wing is being discussed. Having people there to monitor his medications would be a good thing. Al's memory being what it is, chances are he is forgetting to take his meds on some days, and on other days forgetting he took them and taking a second or even third dose.
     Al is also experiencing balance issues. He did fall once trying to get in the shower, but that was over a year ago. Still, he is becoming more and more unsteady and frequently complains about weakness in his legs. In PC the staff will help him with showering and other tasks of daily living.
     On the other hand, Al doesn't respond well to others helping him or telling him when it's time to do this or that. Someone from hospice used to come to give Al his meds. After a few days, Al began greeting the hospice worker with a gruff "Get the hell out and stay the hell away from me." Hospice honored his wishes and stopped trying to manage his drugs.
     Al spends much of his time on his porch, feeding the birds, smoking cigars, drinking Yuengling or red wine and either smoking marijuana in his pipe or eating his Alice B. Toklas cookies. The rooms in PC do not have porches. And there is the question of how sympathetic the PC staff will be to Al's choice of relaxation activities.
     He would certainly benefit from the additional help he would receive in PC. Yet, Al is a man who never married, never settled down. "I was a nomad," he tells people. "I've been all over the world, and I've tried it all." How he would respond to being corralled in PC remains to be seen.

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